Tuesday, August 14, 2007

New Beginning 339

Vixen felt the sting of a needle as it grazed her cheek and twisted to the side, her spine curving far enough that if she were any less limber she would have been split in two. If she was lucky, the dart would contain an anaesthetic, designed to slow her down or put her to sleep. Unlucky and it would be a neurotoxin that shut her heart down before her feet found the floor again.

If she had earned the enmity of her superiors it would be- No. She didn't even want to contemplate that.

She hit the floor and stumbled. A sedative then. Her left thumb found the three hard nodules in the hollow of her left wrist and depressed the middle one, releasing a measured dose of stimulants into her bloodstream. She crouched in the darkness waiting for it to take effect.

Footfalls scuffed near where she lay; She looked up into familiar, narrow eyes. "Ah, we find you in this unfortunate predicament once more, Miss Vixen."

The stimulants were starting to work. She nodded and managed to croak out, "I turned my back on them. It won't happen again, Principal Martin."

Miss Vixen longed for the good old days, when the worst she could expect was a spitball.

Opening: Rachel Green.....Continuation: Anonymous


Evil Editor said...

The darkness had had quite enough of all this drama and decided to go get a drink, leaving Vixen quite visible to her pursuers.


Vixen then depressed the left nodule, which turned on her invasive iPod. She depressed the right nodule which released a dose of liquefied dark chocolate into her oral cavity. A girl can be comfortable while dodging the enmity of her superiors, can't she?

--Bill Highsmith

When she was in law school, she had known that some partnerships required working 60, 70, 80 hours a week. If this was the reaction at Dewey, Satan, and Mao when she had asked to leave early on a Friday, she couldn't imagine what they would do if it hadn't been approved.


Anonymous said...

Her left thumb found the three hard nodules in the hollow of her left wrist...

Ouch. That's hard to do...

Rachel Green said...

Delightful continuation.

Dave Fragments said...

I don't get this as an opening. Vixen (sexy kitten name) gets a dart in her cheek loaded with something unknown thanks to a shadowy conspiracy and she release stimulants so she can stay either awake or alive, we don't know which. Plus, paranoia.

It's too much unknown all at once for my tastes. It's also lacking in any descriptives of the character. Now I'm hoping she was headed for the shower, she's naked, voluptuous and the towel drops (hey! A guy can dream, can't he?).

I like this. I like the tone. I might like this novel but this opening is like a fire house rather than garden sprinkler.

Anonymous said...

This feels a tad rushed.

Vixen felt the sting of a needle as it grazed her cheek and twisted to the side -- suggests the dart twists when in fact its Vixen who twists.

She hit the floor and stumbled.

Wouldn't she stumble and then hit the floor. If she had previously left the floor, I don't see where we're told that.

Her left thumb found the three hard nodules in the hollow of her left wrist...

Left thumb to left wrist? I can't do that...

The immediate conflict is too quickly "resolved" by the convenient stimulants, so I'm never invested in the story. There isn't time for there to be any tension -- hope it comes in the next paragraph...

writtenwyrdd said...

I liked this and assumed it was the beginning of some urban fantasy or scifi.

A couple of minor nit picks: Vixen as a name is a bit over the top, but whatever. The idea of an internal system she manually manipulates was interesting, but made my eyebrow raise. If I interpreted that correctly, it seems at the very least inefficient to manually select a counteragent instead of have an onboard, automatic system. Not that I am trying to tell you to change the technology to something like nanotech (which is probably as pie in the sky as FTL travel but an accepted sf convention nonetheless). But the confusion might be cleared up with a bit of minor editing.

Anyhow, that's a minor nitpick. I would have read on. I do not agree that this is too much at once. I just think it needs to have the significant details strengthened a bit and perhaps some more scene-setting. I can wait a few pages to understand why she's worried about her bosses as well as the unknown attacker.

jjdebenedictis said...

I think, for an action scene, this lacks excitement. The problem is in the "telling", which kills your pace. You should strive to get as much of the information across by "showing" as you can - primarily because it will increase the ratio of action to navel-gazing in this scene. Here's a breakdown of your "showing" versus "telling":

Paragraph 1:
Sentence 1)
Vixen gets shot by a dart and does some crazy yoga to twist out of the way - yay! It's an awesome way to start the story. Unfortunately, you then insert some telling, letting us know Vixen is extremely limber. Try to describe her twisting in midair so vividly the reader doesn't need to be told this woman is limber.
Sentence 2) Telling - it's possibly anaesthetic
Sentence 3) Telling - it's possibly neurotoxin

Paragraph 2:
Sentence 1/2)
Telling - she has superiors and they are unforgiving of faults

Paragraph 3:
Sentence 1)
We get some more action; yay!
Sentence 2) Telling - it's sedative
Sentence 3) Like the opening sentence, a mix of telling and action.
Sentence 4) Telling - she's gonna power-nap the drug off

If you show Vixen twisting like a snake to try to dodge that dart, it shows the reader Vixen is impossibly limber, has freakish reflexes and is well-trained. That already gets a lot of information across, and it whets our appetites much more than you dryly telling us any number of things. If you're afraid the one image won't get Vixen's abilities across to us, then you have a perfect opportunity to back up the reader's impression of what she can do by vividly showing us how she can bend her left thumb to touch her left wrist. (However, you'll need to do a better job of that, because currently the left-thumb-touches-left-wrist thing reads as an error of logic.)

To show us Vixen has been drugged, you should describe what she feels, rather than telling us what's going through her mind (and she seems to be thinking a lot for someone who has had exactly one instant to realise she might be about to die.) You can also ratchet up the tension considerably by having her press the nodule (because if the dart was neurotoxin, it makes no difference, right?) and then crouch down, wondering if the stimulant is going to help or only make her alert as she dies. As she feels the sedative taking effect, she can feel relief that the dart wasn't poison and then consider that it means she hasn't ticked off a superior.

In other words, this is supposed to be an action sequence, so focus on the action as much as possible. Keep the character's thoughts to a minimum and only allow them in when it's realistic for her to be thinking, i.e. when she's crouched and waiting to see what will happen to her.

Good luck with this!

Final quibbles:
- The wording of the opening sentence is ambiguous. It sounds as if the needle twists to the side. You could solve this by splitting the sentence into two, with a period after "cheek".
- I think anaesthetic just makes you numb. It isn't synonymous with sedative, which is what makes you sleepy.
- Erm. I also don't like "Vixen" as a name. It's pretty cheesy. Sorry.

Cathy in AK said...

I liked it and would read on, despite agreeing with some of the observations made.

The continuation was a hoot, considering school is starting soon.

Bonnie said...

I'm having some trouble with the action here. Apparently she's in the air when the dart hits her, then falls, decides that means she's alive? It almost sounds like the dart raised her into the air, but something that small striking a glancing blow couldn't do that, could it?

I also have some issues with the situation. I don't mind a certain amount of ambiguity or waiting for details to be filled in -- the bosses who might be after her, for instance. I notice that the presence of pre-inserted antidotes indicates she's at least somewhat prepared to be randomly attacked. But where is she? Stalking someone in an abandoned factory? Waiting in line at Starbucks? Hiding in the ventilation shafts of a spaceship?

none said...

Alternatively, the opening sentence could easily be fixed this way:

Vixen felt the sting of a needle graze her cheek and twisted to the side...

Unless that's also on the list of awfuls.

McKoala said...

Wow, ms de benedictis, thorough. And I agree. Exciting situation, though, and protag with interesting abilities.

Anonymous said...

Hard to please the minions, isn't it? Ya give 'em action, they yell for setup. Ya give 'em setup, they yell for action.

I'd like to see this as an exciting action scene with a little location thrown in. Something like:

At the first sting of the needle that grazed her cheek, Vixen twisted hard. Her spine bent at a near-impossible angle in the cramped [alley, hall, stateroom, basement].

Then build the tension from there. Remember, we don't care about this person yet or know her. She could be a criminal or Jane Bond 006. We don't know yet, so we need something to connect with. Cool-headed characters can be great, but they're also hard for the reader to empathize with.

I suggest expanding the action, the tension and the scene so it's not tidily resolved in the first 150 words. A fast, tidy resolution now really doesn't bode well for the rest of the book. Will all her troubles be so quickly and easily resolved?

Leave us (and Vixen!) guessing for a bit what the dart may have contained and whether or not the stimulants will work. Let doubt work for you to help build tension.